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Entocort

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Entocort EC

CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY

Mechanism of Action

Budesonide has a high topical glucocorticosteroid (GCS) activity and a substantial first pass elimination. The formulation contains granules which are coated to protect dissolution in gastric juice, but which dissolve at pH greater than 5.5, ie, normally when the granules reach the duodenum. Thereafter, a matrix of ethylcellulose with budesonide controls the release of the drug into the intestinal lumen in a time-dependent manner.

Pharmacodynamics

Budesonide has a high glucocorticoid effect and a weak mineralocorticoid effect, and the affinity of budesonide to GCS receptors, which reflects the intrinsic potency of the drug, is about 200-fold that of cortisol and 15-fold that of prednisolone.

Treatment with systemically active GCS is associated with a suppression of endogenous cortisol concentrations and an impairment of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. Markers, indirect and direct, of this are cortisol levels in plasma or urine and response to ACTH stimulation.

Plasma cortisol suppression was compared following five days' administration of ENTOCORT EC capsules and prednisolone in a crossover study in healthy volunteers. The mean decrease in the integrated 0-24 hour plasma cortisol concentration was greater (78%) with prednisolone 20 mg per day compared to 45% with ENTOCORT EC 9 mg per day.

Pharmacokinetics

Absorption

The absorption of ENTOCORT EC seems to be complete, although Cmax and Tmax are variable. Time to peak concentration varies in individual patients between 30 and 600 minutes. Following oral administration of 9 mg of budesonide in healthy subjects, a peak plasma concentration of approximately 5 nmol/L is observed and the area under the plasma concentration time curve is approximately 30 nmol•hr/L. The systemic availability after a single dose is higher in patients with Crohn's disease compared to healthy volunteers, (21% vs 9%) but approaches that in healthy volunteers after repeated dosing.

Distribution

The mean volume of distribution (Vss) of budesonide varies between 2.2 and 3.9 L/kg in healthy subjects and in patients. Plasma protein binding is estimated to be 85 to 90% in the concentration range 1 to 230 nmol/L, independent of gender. The erythrocyte/plasma partition ratio at clinically relevant concentrations is about 0.8.

Metabolism

Following absorption, budesonide is subject to high first pass metabolism (80-90%). In vitro experiments in human liver microsomes demonstrate that budesonide is rapidly and extensively biotransformed, mainly by CYP3A4, to its 2 major metabolites, 6β-hydroxy budesonide and 16α-hydroxy prednisolone. The glucocorticoid activity of these metabolites is negligible (less than 1/100) in relation to that of the parent compound.

In vivo investigations with intravenous doses in healthy subjects are in agreement with the in vitro findings and demonstrate that budesonide has a high plasma clearance, 0.9-1.8 L/min. Similarly, high plasma clearance values have been shown in patients with Crohn's disease. These high plasma clearance values approach the estimated liver blood flow, and, accordingly, suggest that budesonide is a high hepatic clearance drug.

The plasma elimination half-life, t½, after administration of intravenous doses ranges between 2 and 3.6 hours, and does not differ between healthy adults and patients with Crohn's disease.

Excretion

Budesonide is excreted in urine and feces in the form of metabolites. After oral as well as intravenous administration of micronized [3H]-budesonide, approximately 60% of the recovered radioactivity is found in urine. The major metabolites, including 6β-hydroxy budesonide and 16αhydroxy prednisolone, are mainly renally excreted, intact or in conjugated forms. No unchanged budesonide is detected in urine.

Special Populations

Gender

No significant pharmacokinetic differences have been identified due to gender.

Hepatic Insufficiency

In patients with liver cirrhosis, systemic availability of orally administered budesonide correlates with disease severity and is, on average, 2.5-fold higher compared with healthy controls. Patients with mild liver disease are minimally affected. Patients with severe liver dysfunction were not studied. Absorption parameters are not altered, and for the intravenous dose, no significant differences in CL or Vss are observed.

Renal Insufficiency

The pharmacokinetics of budesonide in patients with renal impairment has not been studied. Intact budesonide is not renally excreted, but metabolites are to a large extent, and might therefore reach higher levels in patients with impaired renal function. However, these metabolites have negligible corticosteroid activity as compared with budesonide (less than 1/100).

Drug-Drug Interactions

Budesonide is metabolized via CYP3A4. Potent inhibitors of CYP3A4 can increase the plasma levels of budesonide several-fold. Co-administration of ketoconazole results in an eight-fold increase in AUC of budesonide, compared to budesonide alone. Grapefruit juice, an inhibitor of gut mucosal CYP3A, approximately doubles the systemic exposure of oral budesonide. Conversely, induction of CYP3A4 can result in the lowering of budesonide plasma levels.

Oral contraceptives containing ethinyl estradiol, which are also metabolized by CYP3A4, do not affect the pharmacokinetics of budesonide. Budesonide does not affect the plasma levels of oral contraceptives (ie, ethinyl estradiol) [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].

Since the dissolution of the coating of ENTOCORT EC is pH dependent (dissolves at pH greater than 5.5), the release properties and uptake of the compound may be altered after treatment with drugs that change the gastrointestinal pH. However, the gastric acid inhibitory drug omeprazole, 20 mg once daily does not affect the absorption or pharmacokinetics of ENTOCORT EC. When an uncoated oral formulation of budesonide is co-administered with a daily dose of cimetidine 1 g, a slight increase in the budesonide peak plasma concentration and rate of absorption occurs, resulting in significant cortisol suppression.

Food Effects

A mean delay in time to peak concentration of 2.5 hours is observed with the intake of a high-fat meal, with no significant differences in AUC.

Clinical Studies

The safety and efficacy of ENTOCORT EC were evaluated in 994 patients with mild to moderate active Crohn's disease of the ileum and/or ascending colon in 5 randomized and double-blind studies. The study patients ranged in age from 17 to 85 (mean 35), 40% were male and 97% were white. Of the 651 patients treated with ENTOCORT EC, 17 (2.6%) were greater than or equal to 65 years of age and none were greater than 74 years of age. The Crohn's Disease Activity Index (CDAI) was the main clinical assessment used for determining efficacy in these 5 studies. The CDAI is a validated index based on subjective aspects rated by the patient (frequency of liquid or very soft stools, abdominal pain rating and general well-being) and objective observations (number of extraintestinal symptoms, need for antidiarrheal drugs, presence of abdominal mass, body weight and hematocrit). Clinical improvement, defined as a CDAI score of less than or equal to 150 assessed after 8 weeks of treatment, was the primary efficacy variable in these 5 comparative efficacy studies of ENTOCORT EC capsules. Safety assessments in these studies included monitoring of adverse reactions. A checklist of potential symptoms of hypercorticism was used.

One study (Study 1) compared the safety and efficacy of ENTOCORT EC 9 mg daily in the morning to a comparator. At baseline, the median CDAI was 272. ENTOCORT EC 9 mg daily resulted in a significantly higher clinical improvement rate at Week 8 than the comparator. See Table 4.

Table 4 : Clinical Improvement Rates (CDAI less than or equal to 150) After 8 weeks of Treatment

Clinical Study ENTOCORT EC Comparator* Placebo Prednisolone
9 mg Daily 4.5 mg Twice Daily
1 62/91
(69%)
  37/83
(45%)
   
2   31/61
(51%)
  13/64
(20%)
 
3 38/79
(48%)
41/78
(53%)
  13/40
(33%)
 
4 35/58
(60%)
25/60
(42%)
    35/58
(60%)
5 45/86
(52%)
      56/85
(65%)
* This drug is not approved for the treatment of Crohn's disease in the United States.

Two placebo-controlled clinical trials (Studies 2 and 3) were conducted. Study 2 involved 258 patients and tested the effects of graded doses of ENTOCORT EC (1.5 mg twice daily, 4.5 mg twice daily, or 7.5 mg twice daily) versus placebo. At baseline, the median CDAI was 290. The 3 mg per day dose level (data not shown) could not be differentiated from placebo. The 9 mg per day arm was statistically different from placebo (Table 4), while no additional benefit was seen when the daily ENTOCORT EC dose was increased to 15 mg per day (data not shown). In Study 3, the median CDAI at baseline was 263. Neither 9 mg daily nor 4.5 mg twice daily ENTOCORT EC dose levels was statistically different from placebo (Table 4).

Two clinical trials (Studies 4 and 5) compared ENTOCORT EC capsules with oral prednisolone (initial dose 40 mg per day). At baseline, the median CDAI was 277. Equal clinical improvement rates (60%) were seen in the ENTOCORT EC 9 mg daily and the prednisolone groups in Study 4. In Study 5, 13% fewer patients in the ENTOCORT EC group experienced clinical improvement than in the prednisolone group (no statistical difference) (Table 4).

The proportion of patients with normal plasma cortisol values (greater than 150 nmol/L) was significantly higher in the ENTOCORT EC groups in both trials (60 to 66%) than in the prednisolone groups (26 to 28%) at Week 8.

The efficacy and safety of ENTOCORT EC for maintenance of clinical remission were evaluated in four double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-month trials in which 380 patients were randomized and treated once daily with 3 mg or 6 mg ENTOCORT EC or placebo. Patients ranged in age from 18 to 73 (mean 37) years. Sixty percent of the patients were female and 99% were Caucasian. The mean CDAI at entry was 96. Among the four clinical trials, approximately 75% of the patients enrolled had exclusively ileal disease. Colonoscopy was not performed following treatment. ENTOCORT EC 6 mg per day prolonged the time to relapse, defined as an increase in CDAI of at least 60 units to a total score greater than 150 or withdrawal due to disease deterioration. The median time to relapse in the pooled population of the 4 studies was 154 days for patients taking placebo, and 268 days for patients taking ENTOCORT EC 6 mg per day. ENTOCORT EC 6 mg per day reduced the proportion of patients with loss of symptom control relative to placebo in the pooled population for the 4 studies at 3 months (28% vs. 45% for placebo).

Last reviewed on RxList: 1/10/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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